With just over three weeks remaining before Barbadians vote in a general election and reports of political attacks, the local religious community is appealing to the candidates and their supporters to desist from all forms of mudslinging and violence.
It was only on Saturday during the Opposition Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) annual Heroes’ Day picnic on the Ermy Bourne Highway that party chairman George Payne accused the Freundel Stuart-led Democratic Labour Party (DLP) of adopting a laissez faire attitude to the current campaign, while charging that it had either resigned itself to losing or was intent on winning by some nefarious method.
Also on Saturday, the St Michael North West constituency office of Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler was reportedly vandalized, an act which was later condemned by BLP General Secretary Dr Jerome Walcott, while complaining that campaign posters belonging to his party were torn down.
In the meantime, the DLP’s incumbent representative for St James South and Minister of Industry, Commerce, International Business and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has accused the BLP of declaring war on them, while pledging to “take them to the wire”.
However, General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Holiness Church in Barbados Reverend Joel Cumberbatch this afternoon pleaded with the political candidates and their supporters to keep the campaigning clean and to focus on the issues.
“I would like to think that an ethical standard of behaviour would obtain in terms of running a clean campaign. I think that is important. Of course, I believe that as they campaign as well, they should seek to provide people generally with some answers.
“I think that people are generally interested in what they would be offering in terms of the policies of their respective parties for those who are party persons and those who are independent as to what kind of alternative perspective they would be bringing,” Cumberbatch told Barbados TODAY.
Noting that Barbados has had a history of non-violent election campaigns, the religious leader said he did not expect this occasion to be any different.
His position was supported by New Testament Church of God Bishop Martin Brewster who said he would like to see an orderly election campaign in the lead up to the May 24 poll.
“Certainly we would want to see that everything in Barbados is done in decency and in order. We don’t want them to get up there [on political platforms] and mudsling one another,” Bishop Brewster said.
While referring to the alleged act of vandalism at Sinckler’s constituency office, he made it clear his church frowned on such acts.
“We don’t want to hear of those kinds of things at all. So generally speaking we would want to see order prevail as they go through with their campaigning and we would encourage the public to do the same . . . . Do not incite people to do things that are not right because the Church certainly would not give support to that kind of thing,” Brewster stressed.
Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI) Gerry Seale also weighed in on the general election campaign, appealing to Barbadians to exercise their franchise.
“I’ve often told people who say they’re not voting that too many people have paid too high a price for me to have the privilege of voting for me to then disrespect them by not going to the polls,” he said, pointing out that during the period of slavery, there were a number of revolts, the best known being the revolt led by General Bussa.
“Each revolt ended with lives snuffed out and a heavy shedding of blood. These revolts were a fight for freedom, dignity and human rights,” the head of the PAWI said, while stressing that many had paid with their lives for modern day Barbadians to enjoy their rights and freedoms.
“Please do not disrespect their sacrifice by deliberately refusing to exercise the franchise to vote for the candidate and party of your choice. These bloody struggles laid the foundation for our modern Barbados, including the right of every Barbadian to vote for the candidate and political party of his/her choice,” Bishop Seale stressed.